Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have made it three wins in a row with a strong 24-22 win over the Wyong Roos in their Round 10 clash on Saturday afternoon.
Welcoming back Matt Ballin for his first game since suffering an ACL injury last year, Wests Tigers got off to the perfect start when Jack Littlejohn found Rod Griffin on the inside 30m from the Roos line. Griffin showed good agility and awareness to round Omar Slaimankhel at the back, before using his strength to crash over close to the posts.
Tyler Cassel converted to give Wests Tigers a 6-0 lead after just eight minutes.
Wyong threatened to level the match when Paki Afu found space through the middle of the field, before a brilliant tackle from fullback Watson Heleta stopped the prop forward.
The Roos would eventually hit back following a clever kick from Tyler Cornish close to the line, which found space in behind the markers for Slaimankhel to touch down.
Cornish’s simple conversion leveled the score at 6-6 after 23 minutes.
After several repeat sets on the visitors’ line, Wests Tigers would eventually pull back in front in the shadows of half-time, with a good run and offload from Michael Chee Kam allowing Littlejohn to sprint away to the line. Cassel was unable to convert from out wide, giving the home side a 10-6 lead at the break at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The home side would begin the second half in ideal fashion, with a superb run from Josh Addo-Carr breaking open the Roos’ defence and allowing the winger to cross out wide.
Cassel — filling in at goal-kicking following Josh Drinkwater’s late withdrawal — showed great skill to add the extras from the sideline to extend Wests Tigers’ lead to 10.
Wyong wouldn’t go away, however, and quickly hit back with a try to Mitch Frei after 46 minutes to cut the margin to six points again. However, following some gutsy goal-line defence, Stringer’s side would preserve their lead and work the ball down field to try and extend their lead once again — which they would do through the returning Ballin.
Playing at lock with Manaia Cherrington out there, Ballin found some space wide on the left and proved too strong — crashing over for a much-celebrated four-pointer.
Cassel was unable to add the extras, however, leaving the score at 20-10.
Both teams would continue to trade tries as the second half wore on, with Dominic Reardon crossing for Wyong after 67 minutes before captain Asipeli Fine found space back against the grain to cross and take the score to 24-16 with 10 minutes to play.
The match was set for a grandstand finish when Afu crossed with just five minutes to play — cutting the lead to 24-22 — but some gutsy defence from Stringer’s men saw them hold firm and emerge with a two-point victory from a thrilling Round 10 clash.
FULL TIME SCORE — Wests Tigers 24 (Griffin, Littlejohn, Addo-Carr, Ballin, Fine tries; Cassel 2/5 goals) def. Wyong Roos 22 (Slaimankhel, Frei, Reardon, Afu tries; Cornish 3/4 goals).